Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/NICHOLAS KAMM
Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/NICHOLAS KAMM

There it was: The president of the US announcing he was going to war, like a page ripped out of the Wag The Dog script.

Except it wasn’t a new war. It was the old Afghanistan imbroglio. And he wasn’t going to war so much as ramping up the existing war.

Apparently Donald Trump has stumbled on a brilliant strategy — this time the US will "fight to win".

"We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists," he said on national television, according to Reuters. Apparently nation-building is a bad thing. Who knew?

This from the script of Wag the Dog:

Ames: "We can’t afford a war."

Brean: "We aren’t going to have a war. We’re going to have the ‘appearance’" of a war."

All this war talk has its origin in Trump’s dwindling, diminishing, perhaps even vanishing support, including in the conservative states where he triumphed in 2016 by promising, among other things, not to go to war in Afghanistan.

That was then, this is now. Then he was popular and didn’t need a war. Now he’s at rock bottom and any war will do.

Let’s recap recent events. Trump decided to not condemn right-wing neo-Nazi protestors until he was forced to do so; he fired Steve Bannon, the "alt-right" architect of his isolationist politics; and last but not least, he now has Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs trying to rescue his economic plans.

Bannon returned to his alt-right home at the Breitbart news site, from where he will fire up Trump’s conservative constituency.

Quite how Trump will recoup his political losses by abandoning Bannon, embracing Cohn and explaining his affiliation to the Confederate cause is not exactly clear. Is there a spin doctor in the house?

So Afghanistan it is. It won’t be long before Trump is on the deck of a warship in fatigues as the cruise missiles blast off.

But, instead of providing a much-needed distraction, Trump’s Afghanistan pivot might just cause him more trouble.

The lead story on Breitbart on Monday started with: "Trump’s ‘America First’ base was the biggest loser of Trump’s speech on Afghanistan ... and many quickly expressed their disappointment at the business-as-usual address from the president, who had once promised to limit American intervention abroad and focus on nation-building at home."

hartleyr@tisoblackstar.co.za

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